I don’t think anyone needs the sad reminder that Easy Street Records’s last day on Queen Anne is tomorrow, Friday. However, Easy Street is going out with a bang – final days of the in-store sale, Yo La Tengo performing live, and a public auction.
Here’s a quick roundup of what’s happening in the next 72 hours:
Thursday, Jan 17: Opening at 9am. 20% off new product, books, magazines, etc. and 40% off all used stock.
Friday, Jan 18: Last day for the store and last in-store performance – Yo La Tengo will perform at 7pm to close out Easy Street’s tenure at the Queen Anne location.
Saturday, Jan 19 & Sunday, Jan 20: Advance public viewings for the Public Auction will be Saturday 4-7pm and Sun 9-11am. The Public Auction will then be Sunday at 11am. If you can’t make the auction, Easy Street is accepting absentee bids at the store today (Thursday) and Friday. Items up for auction are listed online.
And, finally, you can check out a short film by local filmmaker Collin Monda, titled “Farewell, Easy Street Queen Anne” – and we’ll use that to close out the Easy Street goodbye.
What a downer for the start of the new year… Easy Street Records, a Queen Anne icon, is closing on January 18th due to the landlord requesting a new long-term lease that included an increased rent rate. Chase Bank will be the new tenant.
Here’s the letter from Easy Street Records owner Matt Vaughan:
It’s with a heavy heart that we have to say goodbye to our beloved Queen Anne neighborhood. Thanks to you, 2012 was one of our better years. We posted some good sales numbers and hosted some amazing events. We have been at this location for 12 years. We did not want to close.
In the past year, we received various honors and accolades. We were named King County’s Small Business of the Year and Mayor McGinn proclaimed Dec 20 Easy Street Records Day, in which he stated that “Easy Street Records embodies the diverse musical styles that Seattle produces and is an essential part of the community.” We found good reason to be optimistic about 2013.
After fulfilling our 10-year lease, our landlord was looking for another long-term lease. We felt this might be risky, particularly with the current economic landscape of retail and some changes that had affected the neighborhood. Furthermore, the rent that the landlord was looking for was significantly more than what we had been paying. Initially, we were fortunate in negotiating a couple one-year leases. That is what kept us here these last couple of years.
The new tenant, Chase Bank, will take possession of 20 Mercer St on Jan 21. We thank our committed customers, this beautiful neighborhood, our fellow merchants and neighbors, and all of the music lovers and musicians that supported Easy Street Records at this location. We will miss all of you and cherish the memories forever.
We recently signed a new 15-year lease at our original store in West Seattle, where we will carry on the Easy Street tradition of great in-stores, yummy breakfasts, tasty vinyl, and overall, an excellent selection of music. We hope to see you there soon.
Forever grateful, Matt Vaughan and the 20 Mercer Crew
Following on the heels of being named the King County Small Business of the Year, Easy Street Records has been recognized as a key independent Seattle business by Mayor Mike McGinn. The mayor chose Easy Street Records as the spotlight business for November’s In Good Company, a program that showcases businesses that “embody Seattle’s pioneering spirit and reflect Seattle at its best”.
According to Mayor McGinn:
“Easy Street Records embodies the diverse musical styles that Seattle produces and is an essential part of the community in the way they spread and promote Northwest music. Their commitment to their employees and to the community of Seattle is what makes them an excellent addition to the In Good Company program.”
The program recognizes locally owned businesses that are “unconventional, transformative and exemplary” – cementing the importance of the local, independent businesses that are the foundation of our neighborhood.
To further emphasize that point, here’s what Easy Street owner Matt Vaughan said in the mayor’s press release:
“We’re going to support anything that has to do with music and promoting the arts in Seattle. That’s our responsibility. As a small business owner, it is gratifying to see that Seattle folks tend to understand that by supporting small business, they are in effect recycling monies right back into their economy and effectively, right back into their local community.”
Check out the Seattle Channel video for Easy Street Records, owner Matt Vaughan talks about the history of Easy Street Records, free in-store performances, and the challenges of operating a small business – adjusting and innovating along the way.
Last week, Easy Street Records was named the King County Executive’s 2012 Small Business of the Year. The award was presented at a breakfast ceremony at Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, where Easy Street Records was up against Kenmore Camera and Trophy Cupcakes for the top title. King County Executive Dow Constantine presented the award, which is “given to the small business that best exemplifies the tenacity, perspicacity, and audacity it takes to successfully operate a small business.”
Owner Matt Vaughan shared his thoughts with Queen Anne View on winning the award, as well as tips for other small businesses and plans for the coming year. Queen Anne is home to many small businesses and without our community, they wouldn’t survive. As you’ll see, Matt has many insights on the challenges and benefits of being a small business on Queen Anne – and, when you’re done getting the scoop on what it’s like to be in his shoes, stop by and say “Congratulations!” – and, keep supporting our local small businesses!
How’d you feel when you won the award?
“I was very humbled, this came as an utter surprise… Seattle is so supportive of small businesses, I think our citizens and residents understand that small business is a reflection of our society and our various neighborhoods. I think they also understand the benefits of spending money at local businesses. The money is recycled right back into our local economy. From our employees and the income they can spend locally…to the tax revenue it generates and the positive subsistence that it produces. This is what pays for our cops, firemen, paving streets, schools, etc. King County has exemplified just how the economy can recover, one community at a time. Invest in small business, shop at small business. We are the engines that fuel the economy.”
Are there any key tips or lessons learned as a small locally-owned business on Queen Anne that you’d like to share?
“1) …when first starting out, I recommend being visible, communicate with your customers, get behind that counter, work alongside your staff. Your customers work hard too, you can’t appear as a slacker, you need to dedicate yourself to your craft and your specialty.”
2) When hiring young people, give encouragement. Young people can feel intimidated if you do not spend a proper enough time with them or make them feel welcomed. Display the pride in what it means to go to work, show them some tricks of the trade.
3) When you receive a bad review or some negative feedback, you have to remember that it is simply because the people care, your customer wants the best from you. They have expectations. You can’t always live up to them, but you can’t let that bring you down or get upset over that. Also, remember the benefit you have that a large business doesn’t have, you can directly respond and have dialogue with a customer that was unhappy. You will either be able to retain that customer or at least find out some vital information about your company. The best improvements we have ever made, have always come from customer feedback.
4) Support your fellow merchants, collaborate with other businesses in your neighborhood.”
Any plans for the Queen Anne location in the coming year?
“We are coming out of very difficult stretch. In 2008, the same year the economy fell into a freefall, …we lost the Supersonics. They were our most important tenant in Queen Anne. It’s old news I know and I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but it still resonates with all of the businesses down here. We immediately saw a drop in sales, 30%+. As difficult as that was to weather, we also saw a drop in the attitude and civic pride in Queen Anne.
Soon after, we lost the Fun Forest in Seattle Center, we lost the Uptown Theater, Blockbuster Video, and a few small businesses along the way… I can’t say we are out of the woods yet, but we did find ways to get creative.
In the coming year, we will continue to have free in-store events and sidewalk sales. We will continue to support our local bands and musicians. Collaborate with like-minded businesses. We will continue to put up murals and award winning window displays. There are areas we need to improve on and we’ll work on that…our website will see an improvement in the coming months, we hope to improve our catalog in various genres, and of course expand our vinyl section. I’m open to suggestions. You did see Macklemore on the roof the other day didn’t you? That was a first.”
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis perform on the roof of Easy Street’s Queen Anne location -Photo Courtesy of Jim Bennett
Many thanks to Matt Vaughan for his insight on running a successful small business on Queen Anne! Stop by Easy Street Records on Mercer Street to say congratulations – and continue to support our local independent businesses and restaurants, via both your patronage and your feedback – they’re what keeps Queen Anne unique!
Seattle Weekly‘s annual “Best of” list is back with its awards for the very best of the best in all things Seattle. While Queen Anne didn’t take home the distinction of “Best Neighborhood to Live in” (that title went to our neighbors over in Ballard), QA was recognized for a bunch of other citywide bests that call the hill home. And so, without further ado and in no particular order, here are all of Queen Anne’s bests:
Every year Queen Anne gets a number of shout outs in the ‘best of’ issue, because, well, there are just so many bests we Queen Anne-ers have to boast. Last year Queen Anne’s Easy Street Records, El Diablo Coffee, and our many secret stairways (the “Best Alternative to the Stairmaster”) were just a few of the winners. Check out last year’s wins here.
The Seattle Weekly “best of” list includes people, places, food & drink, sports & recreation and shopping & services. To see the entire list, click here.
Glenn Case has been the official Easy Street Records muralist for the past seven years, painting building-height replicas of album covers along the record shop’s outer wall, only to do it all over again ever six to nine weeks as new albums dropped.
His most recent creation–two panels for the release of Pearl Jam’s VS and Vitalogy Deluxe Expanded Edition today–took him the better part of a week to perfect. You may have spotted Case high on a ladder, chipping away at the murals outside Easy Street (and trying to beat the rain) a couple of weeks back.
If you missed Case in action, you can catch the project from start to finish (encompassing some 30 hours of work) condensed down into a one minute and 36 second time lapse video.
Case, 39, moved to Seattle after graduating from the University of North Carolina in 1996. One of the first jobs he had after arriving was working as a set designer with the Seattle Repertory Theatre, something he still does for various venues on occasion, when his schedule allows.
Though Case will be covering up his own work in a couple months’ time, he says he doesn’t mind the long hours he puts in, even for such short-term exhibitions.
“I never think in those terms, because I’m just out here until it’s done,” Case said. “It’s been a long process of doing what I do and getting recognized as an artists. This has been a great stage for me.”
Nowadays Case splits his time between churning out impeccably detailed murals for Easy Street, as well as custom-made signs and works commissioned for commercial businesses, homes, children’s murals, airplane hangers–you name it. One of his most interesting projects involved painting a bathtub to depict a lounging woman holding a martini, in the nude, in, of course, waterproof paint.
According to Case, all of his Easy Street murals are best viewed from across the street, in front of the entrance to Met Market. So if you happen to be walking by and want to check out his work, the corner of Mercer Street and 1st Ave N is the prime viewing location.
“I basically paint in a real impressionistic style,” he said. “It’s best for people at the market to see it… as you get a block away, all the dots and lines blend into something else.”
As you can imagine, between seven years of musical murals, alongside his other commissioned projects and his own work, Case has developed quite a backlog of pieces. Though doesn’t have a website, you can check out more of his work on his Facebook Page, Seattle Murals. Case also has a show of his own art at the Crepe Cafe in Ravenna, showing through the end of the month.
Last week’s Seattle Weekly was filled with the paper’s annual citywide “Best of” piece. And it may not be much of a surprise that more than a couple Queen Anne spots made the list. Check out the Weekly’s bests of Seattle that are located right here in the neighborhood:
Exene Cervenka will be doing a free, all-ages show at Easy Street Records (20 Mercer St.) at 6 p.m. tonight, Friday, April 16. Cervenka is most known as the lead vocalist in the 1970s LA-based punk rock band X.
She told Easy Street:
“The reason I am touring independent record stores from San Diego to Seattle this April is that I want to play for free, to people of all ages, at a reasonable hour, in a place we love to be. I’m touring at my own expense, because I don’t want the economy to stand between my music and people that might want to hear it. Yes, I hope I sell some aprons and a few cds, but bring your X records, the kids, shop independent, and let’s have a party! xo exene”
(As always, thanks to Easy Street for the picture!)
On the live music radar this week, John Hiatt will be doing a free, solo acoustic performance and signing at Easy Street Records on Tuesday, April 6 at 7 p.m. Check out his new album The Open Road before the show.
(As always, thanks to Easy Street for the picture!)